In this article I will clarify why a quality strategy is essential in every product or service driven company. On top of that, I will explain how to create your own strategy, adapted to your business.
First things first, when developing your own quality strategy it’s important to understand the meaning behind creating a strategy.
When I was looking for a suitable definition, I found the perfect one on Forbes:
"A strategy is a framework for making decisions about how you will play the business game. It is about the what and the why, and not the how."
So when developing your own quality strategy, your strategy should tell you what you want to accomplish and why you want to achieve more quality. Once you’ve tackled these questions, you’ll also know if decisions you take fit within that framework and contribute to the why.
And that’s the most important element of a quality strategy: guide you towards a bigger purpose within the quality game. The purpose of the game One of the first things you read when interpreting the game rules, is the purpose of the game. Just like games, that’s also your starting point when creating your quality strategy: find the purpose of quality within the organisation.
Once you’ve found your quality purpose, you’ll notice that this purpose isn’t your real starting point. Because the real starting point should lie within your company’s mission statement. That is because your quality strategy should always support your company’s mission and strategy.
Once you identify the mission statement of a company, you can try to comprehend the role of quality within an organisation and what the quality mission should be. What is the ultimate goal of quality within the organisation? How can quality support the mission of the company?
When we take a look at 4 different mission statements of 4 different companies, you’ll notice how the role of quality differs in every organisation:
“To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions. To create value and make a difference.” (Coca Cola Company)
“We will devote our human resources and technology to create superior products and services, thereby contributing to a better global society.” (Samsung)
“Our purpose is to redefine how we live in and care for the resources of our world, while using Uncommon Sense to create what people need.” (IFF)
“Gibson Brands is dedicated to quality, innovation and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands.” (Gibson)
As these examples show, the role of quality differs in every organisation. And so does their quality strategy.
For Coca Cola for example, their quality strategy could focus on protecting their brand. As for IFF, brand protection might not be their main focus. Every quality focus can be different, but therefore no less important!
When you’ve determined your mission statement, you can start building your framework, which in turn forms your strategy. Which pillars are needed to realise your quality mission? What needs to be in place? Also determine why these pillars are necessary in your company, as well as their role in the entire company story.
This exercise will help you make the right decisions when it comes to quality. Because that’s what a strategy is all about: developing a framework to make the right decisions.
When we take quality control as an example, you will notice it can be part of your quality strategy as well. Because quality control entails checking the product quality and making sure it complies with (customer) requirements and expectations. Quality control therefore is part of your quality strategy. The strategy won’t tell you how to control your product quality, only that you need to control product quality.
Quality control has a different role in the companies previously mentioned. For example, when a brand like Coca Cola sells carbonated drinks which aren’t sparkling, even though it’s clearly specified on the packaging, it will create complaints and damage the brand.
On the other hand, when a company in food flavour development sells products in which one of the mentioned flavour components is missing, the taste might still be acceptable for another customer. Therefore, the missing component won’t be an issue at all.
How to act on a product dificity or how to control your product quality is clear thanks to the set framework of your quality strategy. This framework helps you make a decision in different situations. On top of that, the why of quality - which is in line with the why of the organisation -is not questioned with the decisions you make.
The purpose of a quality strategy is to help the company achieve its mission and to create a framework to make the right decisions when it comes to quality. The mission statement of your organisation should be the starting point in order to clearly define the role of quality in the whole story.
Defining the reason for quality and setting up the quality framework is not an easy job and a second set of eyes can help translate the mission statement into a quality strategy. Doing it in the other way round, will lead to frustration and questioning the role and contribution of quality in the organisation.
Need help in developing your quality strategy? Don’t hesitate to reach out.